Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Merse Your MERSE!

Just in case you thought we needed another book-centric social network, Squirl is here to answer your needs.

Or, in other words, if you’ve written a novel that uses a real-world location, pester anyone with a smartphone and the right user analytics to read your book when they happen to walk by that location in real life. Then shout at them as they keep on walking. (Coming in a later iteration: The ability to pester space- and time-travelers with booky locations NOT ON THIS PLANET or NEAREST CONVENIENT PARALLEL DIMENSION.

Yes, I know this is all part of the Millennial digital native wave that’s going to take over the world and, yeah, well, you get the picture. Get ready to merse your merse, with Squirl!

Yes, I’m being overly sarcastic, and a bit hard on the founders of Squirl. But I have to wonder what they’re going to do when they’ve got users strolling through areas where not much in the literary sense has happened.

This isn’t going to turn into one of those “who would use this” rants. Just because I wouldn’t use it doesn’t mean there aren’t many people out there who will. I don’t walk around with a smart phone constantly in my hands, but many, many others do, and they apparently don’t have enough to do with them.

I guess it’s just a contrast to how I discover new books to read: Using the highly scientific method of browsing through the racks at the thrift store. If I connect with a story or characters, I connect with them – chatting away with fellow travelers and the author isn’t going to enhance that situation for me. And if I don’t – as in the case of John Crowley’s Little, Big – I may coast along to continue reading the shipwreck, but I don’t need to merse myself in the merse-y universe. Either the magic is there in the book or it isn’t.

And I’ve been to places. I lived in Tours, France, home to Honore Balzac, fils; been to Amboise to see the home of Leonardo da Vinci, and expressly visited the Lake District and Watership Down (not to forget Stratford-on-Avon) while in England. But being there didn’t enhance my enjoyment of these books. The books did it on their own. I don't need to justify the expense of a device that always knows where I am (so the government can track me too, whoopee!) to inform me if I happen to wander past some random corner of minor literary significance.

But some will think it's neat. And that's fine. Just don't hold your breath waiting for me to sign up.

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